One year ago in February 2023, I suddenly found myself depending on a walker just to get to my kitchen. I severely herniated a disc in my lower back while bending to pick up my dog’s bowl, an injury brought on by years of use, particularly by my work in childcare. The pain was excruciating. On top of this, my husband and I had just bought a home to remodel in Richmond, VA. I had a plan to travel between Colorado and Virginia for Babysitters Of Boulder. Suddenly, I couldn’t even walk down the street!

I thought I’d be back to normal in a few weeks. In fact, my husband had to insist that I make a doctor’s appointment. I am only 38 and I’ve always been a very active person. I’ve always bounced back rapidly from injuries, or so I thought. Yet over the next 6 months I had multiple MRIs, agonizing pain, medication injected into my spine, re-injury, and many ups-and-downs in attempting to recover. It’s only now, about a year later, that I am nearly healed thanks to finally finding an excellent physical therapist and working closely together for months. I was able to avoid surgery.

I am fortunate to have our team of childcare providers who provide families with great service, even when I can’t make it out my front door!

And, I learned 5 important Lessons for Childcare Providers:

1. If you have ongoing back pain, please see a specialist and get images. I had lingering and increasing pain in the months leading up to this bigger injury, but I assumed it would go away if I exercised and got some chiropractic care. I could have potentially avoided the extreme pain and major loss of mobility if I had undergone an MRI scan sooner.

2. Nannies need health insurance, worker’s compensation and disability insurance. This injury would have cost me over $35,000 out of pocket if I didn’t have insurance…and if I’d had surgery, the total bill would have been well over $80,000! Worker’s compensation and disability insurance comes through your nanny family paying you legally with a W-2, also known as “on the books.” It’s important!

3. More than ever, I support nannies and sitters taking proper breaks and staying hydrated. I have always been an advocate of this for others, however, I didn’t really embrace this healthy practice as much for myself. I was a “go-go-go” sitter and nanny for many years, compelled by my drive to help, organize spaces, and impress my clients. While that did win me clients and great reviews, it harmed my health over time.

4. Childcare work calls for supportive footwear, rather than cute flats or worn out sneakers that have no support. The stress on your back can add up even in your 20s.

5. As a business owner I spent many hours sitting, whether at my laptop writing emails or driving to meet business partners and clients. Sitting really weakens the deep core muscles that protect your spine and your discs. Have a professional teach you targeted exercises for those deep core muscles. You might be surprised to learn that these muscles wrap around your trunk and back and are much more than the “6-pack.” Finding the right professional isn’t easy. I had two unsuccessful starts with physical therapists. I was lucky to find the amazing Dr. Allison Beale in Richmond to help me one-on-one. See Dr. Beale’s awesome instagram here!

In October 2023, I was able to begin traveling between Boulder and Richmond. I feel lucky to carry my own suitcase on a plane, or walk down Pearl Street in Boulder to meet fellow business owners for coffee. I was so happy to get back to the team lunches, coffee meetups, and volunteering activities I normally do with our team throughout the year. When I say that I look forward to seeing you in person, I really, really mean it!

– Genna Hackley, Founder & Owner, Babysitters Of Boulder

Watch me re-learning how to bend and lift. I had to start with just 5 pounds! ⬇️